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Auburn Technical Assistance Center (ATAC)

April 2011 Blog Posts (24)

The Beneficiaries of Higher Education


All successful entities have a consumer base that is satisfied.  I'm not suggesting that all of the consumers are satisfied, but for an organization to continue to offer products and services there has to be a certain proportion of satisfied consumers.  A university is not exempt from this requirement.  As Daniel Seymour articulated almost 20 years ago, universities must develop clear understandings of what each "consumer constituency" values.  Universities should be able to…


Added by Mark M. Clark on April 28, 2011 at 8:01pm — No Comments

What control chart should I use?

First, let’s review the control charts.  The major objective of control charting or SPC is to detect the occurrence of a special cause quickly so that the proper action can be taken.

Control Charts

  • A graphical tool for monitoring the activity of an ongoing process.
  • Quality characteristics plotted along the vertical axis.
  • Samples or subgroups (in order of time) plotted along a horizontal axis.
  • The mean is the center line and the upper and…

Added by John David Hayes on April 28, 2011 at 1:46pm — No Comments

Keys to Successful Innovation

Ever wonder why some businesses are good at innovation and others aren't?  According to a study commissioned by Christine Crandell, a senior vice-president for marketing at Accept Corporation, there are good innovation management practices that companies must focus on and bad practices to avoid. Christine's insights, as published on Bloomberg Businessweek, are below. This is a great example of Fail…


Added by David Mixson on April 26, 2011 at 11:13am — No Comments

What should you learn from a 5S experience?

I dropped by at 5S event “report out” at a hospital to hear how the events of the day went.  Four teams were assigned their own areas in the hospital to perform a 5S event.  During the “report out” the Team Leader reviews the event and tells what was accomplished.  I only heard the results from two teams.

One Team Leader reported that they had to take a patient room to store supplies because of the volume.  After the event, the patient room was empty.  The efforts had reduced the…


Added by John David Hayes on April 26, 2011 at 10:36am — 1 Comment

ATAC assistance helps firm retain large sales volume

Solutia Inc. is a chemical plant that manufactures heat transfer fluids and specialized hydraulic fluid for a global aviation-based market. The firm employs 81 in its Anniston, Ala. Facility.


The manufacturing plant is an old facility. Solutia, Inc. officials expressed interest and needs in the areas of Lean Continuous improvement and 5s skills training for its supervisory and general employee personnel. 


ATAC provided training…


Added by Mitch Emmons on April 26, 2011 at 9:17am — No Comments

The Improvement Trap- Practical Leadership Tips

Our last discussion centered on ten continuous improvement behaviors demonstrated in successful companies. The ten behaviors fall roughly into groups focused on awareness, engagement, learning, and leadership (Bhuiyan & Baghel, 2005). These behaviors are universal and the extent of their presence is an indicator of cultural readiness for lean.

Just doing improvement activities is not enough, because 70% of companies are engaged in some type of CI activities. To win in the… Continue

Added by David Hicks on April 25, 2011 at 6:17am — No Comments

Taking Care of Managers Impacts the Bottom Line

Let's face it, times are tough for most businesses right now. Consumers have less money to spend and are picky about how they spend what they do have. So how can a business get their customers to spend more money with them? A recent article in the Journal of Retailing* looked at the impact of customer organization identification on store performance. Customer organization identification is when the customer has some form of attachment to your organization, usually an emotional attachment,…


Added by Brian Flynn on April 25, 2011 at 5:00am — No Comments

Comparing the Production System in Higher Education to Other Industries

 In a manufacturing environment, it is easy to determine what kind of production system exists.  Even in the service industry, it is relatively easy to identify the production system.  But in higher education, it is not as clear. Although it is clear that the university is in the service sector, it is not so clear what kind of a production system it has. 


The production system in a paper mill is predominantly a continuous flow shop.  There are liquids being transported…


Added by Mark M. Clark on April 21, 2011 at 4:47pm — No Comments

How do you control Production or Quality (the response variables) ?


There is no control knob that you can go adjust and move both of these in a positive direction.  There is no problem solving methodology that teaches you how to control a response variable itself.  The response variable is the output and you can’t control the output directly.  The only way to control the Output (“Y”) is to control the input Variables (“X’S”).  If you control the X’s you don’t have to worry about the Y’s.

Therefore, the way you control Y’s is to control the…


Added by John David Hayes on April 21, 2011 at 8:23am — No Comments

Vision In Higher Education

Mark Clark’s April 8, 2011, article titled “Lean Six Sigma In Higher Education” inspired me to do some serious thinking about higher education.  Has it changed significantly in recent decades?  The short answer is no. 


So then, a larger question is: how do we affect real change in higher education to drive…


Added by Tom Chandler on April 20, 2011 at 6:26pm — No Comments

What Works, What Doesn't - Fox News Part 2


Part 2:

Here is the 2nd part of the interview on FOX News regarding ThedaCare's (Appleton, WI) use of their Visual Management boards to solve healthcare problems and continuously improve within the hospital. 



Added by Rick Battye on April 18, 2011 at 10:00pm — No Comments

What Six Sigma tool should you use to improve and optimize your process?


Design of Experiments should be used.

Your competitors are working daily to improve their process.  You must do the same or eventually you won’t be able to compete.  You must create a new corporate culture.  That is:  “If it ain’t broke, make it better”.  The process of continuous improvement will give you a long time advantage. 

What is the advantage of Designed Experiments?

They are:

  • You get more information with fewer runs than unplanned…

Added by John David Hayes on April 18, 2011 at 2:59pm — No Comments

Growing Through Service Solutions-Part 3

In part I and part II of my earlier blogs, we looked at why growing service solutions is now a big focus for companies and some of the inherent challenges that must be overcome to be successful. The perspectives shared are from Dr. Stephen Brown, the…


Added by David Mixson on April 18, 2011 at 1:17pm — No Comments

Ten Generic Continuous Improvement Behaviors- Practical Leadership Tips

In their article titled An overview of continuous improvement: From the past to the present, Bhuiyan and Baghel present the history of continuous improvement (CI), classify the four main methods used, and offer a CI Capability Index so companies can evaluate their progress. The authors found that the better team members understand the company’s mission and strategy, the greater the likelihood of success {Bhuiyan & Baghel 2005:768}.

They found the following ten CI behaviors…


Added by David Hicks on April 18, 2011 at 8:00am — No Comments

What Works, What Doesn't - FOX News Part 1


Part 1:

Good interview on FOX News regarding ThedaCare's (Appleton, WI) use of their Visual Management boards to solve healthcare problems and continuously improve within the hospital. Great use of the visual management board for problem solving in all areas of…


Added by Rick Battye on April 13, 2011 at 12:00pm — No Comments

Flying in the Clouds- Practical Leadership Tips

I was fortunate to be raised by very interesting parents. In the early 1970s, they both earned pilots licenses, with Mom eventually becoming a multi-engine instrument flight instructor. Not only does the process of earning these ratings take

discipline, but the practice of exercising these privileges takes discipline.


In Hank Czarnecki’s blog post on from March, he discussed insights from the book Good to Great

on the topic of…


Added by David Hicks on April 12, 2011 at 7:30am — 1 Comment

The Impact of Manager Job Satisfaction on Subordinate Intentions to Quit

Next week I have the opportunity to present a piece of my own research (along with three coauthors) at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Industrial/Organizational Psychologists (SIOP) in Chicago. It's not very often I get to discuss some of my own research, but I think this is an interesting topic, so today I want to share what we found.


There is a large body of research that supports the negative relationship between individual job satisfaction and an individuals turnover…


Added by Brian Flynn on April 11, 2011 at 5:30am — No Comments

Bluegrass Leverages ISO Certification to Enter European Markets

Project Success Story:

ATAC regularly reports project success information to our federal network partner the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). Following is one of those reports regarding assistance that ATAC provided to an Alabama firm in implementing its Quality Management System and attaining ISO Certification. Click here to learn more about how ATAC can help organizations in the area or Quality…


Added by Mitch Emmons on April 8, 2011 at 10:17am — No Comments

Lean Six Sigma in Higher Education

In the last few months I have been inspired to look at a process that I have been part of for decades now….Higher Education.  I have spent about 21 years in higher education; about 9 years as a student and 12 years as a faculty member.  During most of my professional career I have focused on manufacturing processes…first as a graduate student, then a manufacturing manager in the paper industry, and now as a faculty member.  As I continue to work with my manufacturing clients, I am interested…


Added by Mark M. Clark on April 8, 2011 at 9:30am — 1 Comment

Practical Tips for Leading from the Middle-Insights from the ASQ LSS Conference

As I mentioned in previous posts, our Auburn Technical Assistance Center team just returned from the 2011 ASQ Lean & Six Sigma Conference. For the next few blog posts, I’ll give you a summary of some of the interesting presentations I heard.

I was a co-presenter with Beth Reid from Northrop Grumman on the sixth presentation titled, “A Lean Journey- Practical Tips for Leading from the Middle.”

Using a tag team approach, I discussed the techniques and Beth explained how… Continue

Added by David Hicks on April 4, 2011 at 7:30am — No Comments

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